Toyota is donating its Erlanger Engineering Laboratory Building to create a STEAM-focused education center. During Friday’s announcement, Kentucky's Education Secretary said the state is giving Boone County Schools a nearly $7 million grant to adapt the building into a high school.
"I applaud this innovative collaboration between Toyota and local education, business and community partners," says Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin in a statement. "This project serves as additional proof that Kentucky is on track to become the nation's unparalleled hub of engineering and manufacturing excellence."
Kentucky is awarding the project a $6.8 million Work Ready Skills Initiative grant.
The Ignite Institute at Roebling Innovation Center is slated to open for the 2019-2020 school year. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
Boone County Schools Superintendent Randy Poe is calling the new high school innovative. "The entire school will be based on a project-based learning, real industry-case methodology. We want students to be empowered, so that when they graduate they have the opportunities of a lifetime."
Poe says the school will focus on five key areas. "Biomedical sciences, advanced manufacturing, pre-engineering, logistics/IT/coding, and the building trades. Each student will have the opportunity to earn an associates degree while in these five areas prior to graduation."
Toyota announced in 2014 it was closing its Erlanger-based North American manufacturing headquarters, relocating or laying off nearly 1,600 employees.
Fact Sheet From Toyota:
•Ignite Institute is on pace to welcome up to 1,000 students beginning in the 2019-2020 school year. The Institute will welcome students in grades 9-12 in the very first year.
• Toyota's gift includes a 183,000 sq. ft. two-story building, 22 acres of green space, 580 parking spaces. A $6.8 million Work Ready Skills initiative grant will help convert the Toyota office and engineering lab into the new Ignite Institute.
• Boone County Schools will own and operate Ignite Institute at Roebling Innovation Center and manage all budgeting, staffing, curriculum, and facilities. The goal is also to assemble a board of advisors of business and other leaders and to create a foundation to support the center.
• The school will appeal to students who prefer project-based, hands-on, collaborative education. Programs will focus on problem solving, teamwork, and non-traditional approaches to learning.
• Admission will not be based on GPA, but on a student’s desire to learn the unique skills required for 21st century employment. There will be a formal application process on a first come, first served basis. The goal is to make attendance available for any interested student.
• The school will be tuition free. Organizers hope to create a private foundation to support funding, including to support scholarships, student transportation needs and other extraordinary expenses.
• Ignite Institute is a public school of choice.
• The school will use a performance-based model in which students can move through high school and college level work at their own pace and path. Students will still receive high school and college credits according to their achievement.
• Boone County Schools will provide transportation for its district's students. Other school districts or parents of students will be responsible for providing transportation for students attending from outside Boone County, at this time.
• Ignite Institute will feature large open classrooms; project spaces with flexible seating; collaborative spaces; glass-walled small meeting areas and study rooms; an open cafeteria; art and video production areas; robotic and automation labs; makerspaces; fabrication and arts labs; a health sciences area; manufacturing and logistics education areas; a black box theatre, and a teacher-training center.
• While the school will not have a traditional football or band programs at this time, there will be numerous extracurricular activities. The goal is for all students to be involved in at least one extracurricular activity. Students may also participate in activities at their home school.